Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2015, Mark Barberio is an intriguing player in the Montreal Canadiens system. The former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman is paying dividends on the scoresheet already, but who is he, and how did he get to where he is today?
Barberio was drafted 152nd overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2008. Though he spent a fair bit of time in the AHL, he has skated in over 100 games with the Bolts, tallying six goals and 11 assists during that time.
At 25 years old, Mark Barberio has demonstrated tremendous offensive prowess as a defensemen at the QMJHL, AHL, and NHL levels. While working on earning a full time position with the Montreal Canadiens, he is sporting an 'A' on his red, white and blue St. John's IceCaps jersey, and is currently 1st in the AHL in scoring among defensemen, with one goal and nine assists.
In 2015, the Montreal native signed a one-year two-way contract with the Canadiens and has started the 2015-2016 season with their AHL affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, with ten points in twelve games to date.
Before kicking off his 2015-2016 season with the St. John's IceCaps, Barberio's AHL career consisted of 215 games played, scoring 30 goals and registering 74 assists for a respectable 134 points. While playing for the Norfolk Admirals in the 2011- 2012 season, he helped them finish first in the Eastern Division, and eventually win the Calder Cup. His efforts earned him an AHL First Team All-Star, and the Eddie Shore Trophy as the AHL's "Most Outstanding Defenseman."
Now that he's had a little taste of the Canadiens locker room, he's raring to get back there. That could prove a little difficult, considering who's ahead of him on the depth chart right now. He'll have to battle prospects Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn, and that's just for first replacement duties. Given the rejuvenation of Alexei Emelin, and the solid play of Nathan Beaulieu and Andrei Markov, it will be pretty hard for any of those three to make the Montreal roster.
Barberio is expecting an exciting season of hard work, and being one of the "older" players on the team, he'll be guiding his younger teammates, and showing them what it means to be a professional. His experience is crucial in a young IceCaps locker room, and is part of the reason why he was selected as an alternate captain.
While waiting for the opportunity to present itself for a full time jump into the NHL, Barberio will continue to focus on perfecting his skills, having a good attitude, staying on top of his game, and his nutrition. His father gave him a small piece of advice; "Try and be a sponge. Try and soak up as much information as you can."
As one of the best players on the IceCaps this season, it is clear that this advice has worked for him so far.